15 January 2018

South Africa: A Glass Half Full - Preparing for Day Zero

Photo: PHOTOESSAY: A Glass Half Full - Preparing for Day Zero

Plans to increase water supply to the Voëlvlei Dam, scheduled to come on stream in 2024, have been fast-tracked to 2019 to help with Cape Town's water crisis.

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Level 6 water restrictions are here - this means the crisis in the Western Cape has intensified to the point where 'Day Zero' is looking more real by the day.

For my allAfrica colleagues, that scenario - when the taps run dry - is now a focal point in many aspects of our lives.

My reality check came when there was an administrative error in our area and the water to my house was cut off for a month. An illuminating experience on what to expect from Day Zero. In that time, bottled water was used for most of the day-do-day requirements. We also took to restricting a single cup, bowl and set of utensils per person. It showed me how much still needed to be done to save water so, at the very least, it was an educational experience.

John's experience involves the measures taken at his local gym. He says the number of shower stalls has been reduced from sixteen to four, and members are told to keep their showers under 90 seconds. Gym members are washing their hands with sanitiser instead of the bathroom taps and that some of his gym mates have taken to trucking in water from other parts of the country for their needs.

There's also been an unending debate in the office about the use of borehole water to water gardens and fill swimming pools. Some of them are not fit for human consumption because of high levels of iron. Some of my colleagues think the use of borehole water in urban areas should be banned, especially when it's used for watering your grass!

Melody, who runs our Arts section, has accepted buying water and the introduction of reduced water pressure in her apartment complex as the new norm. She says they wash dishes less often, at most once a day, and use a hand basin instead of the taps for washing. Some of her neighbours use a bucket during showers to catch water (grey water) that is then used to flush toilets.

How are you managing? What we're really concerned about right now is when 'Day Zero' comes, and we have to queue for water at 200 water points in Cape Town - how will it fit into our lives?

For more water-saving tips, click here.

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